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Rare Polio Variant Detected in 10-Year-Old

The Ministry of Health and Child Care has confirmed that a rare type of poliovirus has been detected in a 10-year-old child from the Sanyati district, Mashonaland West province after presenting acute paralysis at a local clinic.

Addressing the media on Thursday, Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care, Sleiman T. Kwidini revealed that the virus detected in this case is a circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus-type 2 (cVDPV).

“The virus that was detected in these occasions is a rare type of poliovirus that can occur when the weakened live virus in the oral polio vaccine (OPV) mutates over time and becomes able to circulate in the community. Hence it is referred to as circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus -type 2 (cVDPV),” said Deputy Minister Kwidini.

Following the detection of the disease, Ministry of Health and Child Care swiftly declared the event to the World Health Organization (WHO) as required under International Health Regulations and implemented emergency response measures including the activation of a Polio Incident Management system, the appointment of an Incident Manager for a coordinated outbreak response, thorough investigations, intensified polio surveillance nationwide, and planning for emergency nationwide polio vaccination campaigns.

“The detection of these viruses in the environment or humans constitutes a Polio outbreak in the country. While the news is concerning, we as the Ministry would like to reassure the public that we have taken swift action to investigate and contain the outbreak to prevent any further spread that may occur,” assured Kwidini.


To curb the spread of the virus, the Ministry has scheduled two rounds of emergency national polio vaccination campaigns targeting all children below 10 years of age.

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“The Ministry further informs the public that two rounds of emergency national polio vaccination campaign targeting all children below 10 years of age have been scheduled for February and March 2024,” announced Kwidini.

The first round of vaccinations is scheduled to take place between February 20 and March 1, 2024, while the second round will occur between March 19 and March 29, 2024. The Ministry aims to vaccinate and protect a total of 4,206,013 children below 10 years of age during each of the two rounds.

Vaccination efforts will be carried out through house-to-house and mobile vaccination teams, as well as at all health facilities during the campaign days. The Ministry has already received the required vaccines for both rounds and has prepositioned them in all provinces and cities.

Meanwhile, the Ministry also confirmed through laboratory tests the presence of a type 2 circulating poliovirus variant in environmental samples that were collected towards the end of 2023 from sewage sites covering Budiriro, Mbare, and Mufakose catchments in Harare Metropolitan Province.

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